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A Novel Way to Prevent Heart Disease?

Posted by bmagnus On May - 28 - 2010

Most people will agree that heart disease is a bad thing that should be avoided. And many people put that idea to work by doing things like eating what they consider “healthy” foods, or exercising. However, researchers at the University College London have found another important thing to do. The good news is that it takes only minutes a day. In fact, you might already do it!

Researchers followed over 11,000 adults for five years and found that those with poor oral hygiene had a higher risk of heart disease. In fact, “participants who didn’t frequently brush their teeth had a 70 percent increased risk of heart disease, compared to those who have a good oral hygiene routine.” [emphasis added]. “Frequent” tooth brushing was defined as twice daily. More importantly:

Even though the researchers found that those who reported brushing their teeth less than twice a day were more likely to be male, older, smokers and to have other health issues (such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity), the team controlled for those variables and others and still found that tooth brushing is associated with cardiovascular disease. The association held even after adjusting for socioeconomic group, visits to dentist, BMI, family history of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diagnosis of diabetes.

While they didn’t find a reason why tooth brushing might reduce the risk of heart disease, they did find that those who didn’t brush twice a day had higher levels of two markers of inflammation that have been linked to heart disease, C reactive protein and fibrinogen. The study cautions that “the causal nature of the association is yet to be determined.”

As if having a healthy, pain-free mouth and a nice smile weren’t enough reason to brush your teeth twice a day, every day, possibly preventing heart disease certainly seals the deal.

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